Problems and conflicts can shape and transform relationships, individuals and lead to the transformation of social systems large and small. Only Leadership won’t lead one or another to become a victim of these problems and conflicts. This is not an interview about conflict transformation with the leadership and strategy advisor Pierre Hnoud but about the role of leadership to overcome obstacles.
Rita Boulos Chahwan
1. A leader is evaluated by his potential to solve problems, what is a problem and what isn’t?
A problem is an undesirable situation that need to be addressed. Some problems could be harmful and detrimental while others could simply turn into an opportunity and a space for serious improvement. A good approach to highlight problems and opportunities would be to use SWOT analysis as a starting point.
As a leader, although you may not be directly responsible for problem or its resolution, you are not immune of its consequences. (i.e., stock market, market conditions, disruptions, etc…) We call this the difference between Control and Influence, in that you may not control the weather for example though it is problematic, but you may control its influence (if it is warm you dress down, if it is cold you dress up.)
A wise leader knows which problem to address and which to simply manoeuver around.
As the French definition for problem goes: “Un problème n’est pas un problème que si et seulement si sa résolution dépend de toi. »
2. Are all problems related to conflicts?
It is a Systemic dilemma. Problems can create conflicts, and vice-versa conflicts can create problems. Then things get out of hands and you end up in a vicious cycle, kind of a crazy 8.
3. When we have a problem, how should it be evaluated?
There are many ways for addressing a problem and each person approaches it depending on their leadership style, background, experience and their own character.
The best way to address a problem is to always look for solutions and not to finger point at people or trying to find someone to blame. For a leader the buck stop here.
4. How should we think of it?
Ask yourself and those around you. This could be done informally or as a workshop:
i. What seems to be the problem?
ii. Why is that a problem?
iii. How does it impact us?
iv. Can we use it to our advantage?
v. If that is the case who should be responsible to resolve it? Responsible means who has the authority and mandate to address the problem.
5. How can we be objective when it is a problem that is related to the subjectivity?
That’s the million dollar question. Even in our utmost objectivity we are somewhat subjective.
That is why having frameworks, best practices and processes to resolve issues and deal with problems is important. It may not eliminate subjectivity but it will surely reduce it to an acceptable level.
Always stick to facts not opinion, use numbers and precise examples not vague statement to address a situation.
6. Sometimes some people evaluate other individuals as problem producers, what is the way of thinking that produces problems?
No single person is good all the time or bad all the time. Most often we see problems in others based on our own bias, envy, jealousy, ignorance or lack of competence.
Dealing with people is like playing a game. If you can figure out the rules of the games and get everybody to agree, then it’s less likely for problems that arise not to be solved.
This doesn’t mean that a lot of people are not problem producers by nature (joy killer if you want). So sometimes we must make the tough decision of letting them go or breaking up with them if we can’t reach a plausible consensus.
7. Do you believe that the people that try to solve a conflict and evaluate others as a source of the problem are not trying to solve it but are simply putting the whole pressure back onto others and blaming them?
Absolutely. Every person has an agenda, not all intentions are good.
Some people use others to succeed, other people offload their work to others to succeed too.
But what is worse, some people would do it on purpose so they can blame others and put them at default thinking that by belittling others they become great.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and it is a jungle out there whether we like it or not.
8. Interpersonal communication can lead to problems, what kind of problems do they lead to?
Any time you have two people facing each other conflicts and problems will arise, even within ourselves we fight between our emotions and rational.
Misunderstanding is a big problem especially for people who are not bold or assertive enough.
Dissatisfaction is another problem when we lack interpersonal skills to communicate our needs and desires.
Failure and lack of productivity is also a good example when we cannot communicate properly with others.
*Developing a high level of Emotional Intelligence EQ is the most important skill in the world.
9. How are they evaluated if it is related to subjective feelings?
Unfortunately most often those who have the power of decision are the ones who are calling the shots. We just need to live with that fact and see our way around it.
There is an adage in business that goes like this “If you can’t move up in an organization for whatever reason, it is time for you to move out.”
10. Or related to a personal interest How is this resolved?
As I said previously, every person has an agenda, a personal agenda. Sometimes our agendas cross each other’s and we can achieve a Win-Win situation by negotiating a desirable outcome.
Other times we end up in a Prisoner’s Dilemma or worse yet, a Mexican standoff.
11. Problems between groups (political parties – organisations ), how can these be resolved?
A political party by definition is one that think it is right and everybody else is wrong. Consequently, there will always be conflicts beyond resolution.
When we are young or at school we tend to see the world in terms of problems and resolution as if it is a math equation.
But the reality is, as we grow up and go out to the world we start to realize that it is about personal agendas, trade-offs and compromises.
Hence, learning to read into people’s personal agenda, understanding how to deal with Trade-offs and how to look for compromises is crucial.
12. How can we solve and deal with intentional problems with the person himself ?
I need a more specific situation. I’d say get them out of the equation.
13. Is a problem a stop sign?
Not at all. A problem can be healthy sometimes as it may reveal an omitted element or a great opportunity.
14. How do bad experiences benefit the leader?
Any experience is a good experience. Only results can be good or bad.
A great leader would learn as much from a good one as they would from a bad one.
It is called lesson learned.
Most often than not, learning what not to do, what works and doesn’t work, is a far more important teacher.
To put it differently, great leaders always look for areas of improvement, they always ask themselves the important question of what have I learned today? They don’t see failure or bad experiences the same way average people do, that is why they are leaders.
15. How is benefit gained from experiences ?
See previous answer.
16. Is running from conflicts the right way to solve problems ?
Of course not. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. You must evaluate the severity of the conflict and decide a course of action. You either resolve it or ignore it.
But sometimes not all conflicts are worthy of attention. Sometimes people create conflict to seek attention.
I would simply say or advise: Never fight other people’s fight, always pick a battle big enough to matter and small enough to win.